Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Don’t Know Nothing About School Nurses, Miss Scarlet by Shannon Vannatter

Research is a hefty part of writing a novel (or anything for publication). Sometimes, it's hard to find just the right answers to our questions. Today, author Shannon Vannatter shares about an experience she had and the friends she made in the process. -- Sandy

Shannon: My heroes and heroines in my books have had lots of careers. Over the years, I relied on friends and family in some of the fields, experience, Googling, attending The Fort Worth Championship Rodeo, and talking to experts. But for my newest heroine, a school nurse, I had nothing.

I questioned if Raquel Marris, heroine in Rodeo Reunion really needed to be a former ER turned school nurse. But it fit the story. When ladies at church asked what book I was working on, I learned that two of our members have daughters who are school nurses. Yippee. But they were both going through trying times right when I needed to pick their brains. I muddled through, googled, and faked it.

To complicate things further, I learned that each state has different laws concerning school nurses. Even school districts in the same state have various guidelines and laws.

Another church member used to be a nurse. But she’s working for a natural gas company in Texas right now, so I really couldn’t pick her brain either.

Since the book was set in Texas, an Arkansas nurse really wouldn’t fit the bill anyway. I turned to American Christian Fiction Writers. I’m a member of the national organization and the membership in the thousands. One of the many benefits, an e-mail loop where we can ask for help with our current projects. I put out a call for nurses or school nurses. Usually when I ask a question on the ACFW loop, my inbox fills up. This time, I got nothing.

Since I have over 1200 friends on Facebook, I decided to give it a shot. A lot of my friends, I don’t even know. Most of the ones I don’t know are authors or readers. I had no idea if there were any nurses out there. I asked for help from Texas nurses or school nurses with my current book. For two days—nothing.

By this time, I’d turned in the book with a promise to my editor that I’d research the medical scenes before final edits. I was starting to get worried. But then messages started coming in. Soon, I was in touch with a school nurse in Texas and one in Arkansas, plus a registered nurse in Arkansas.

I peppered all three with questions and the Arkansas school nurse even read a pivotal scene to make sure it was believable. I’m so thankful she did—my scene was way over the top. I put all three very helpful ladies in my acknowledgements and promised them copies of the book when it released. And made three new Facebook friends.

Do you have go-to friends or acquaintances when it comes to those tricky research questions that must be answered? Have you made new friends through your research?


Award winning, central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows and once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots.

She has eleven published titles and is contracted for four more. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at


And Slade Walker's not a likely candidate. Even if the former major league pitcher just agreed to coach her son's little league team. The single mom can't risk everything on a bronc-riding chaplain who's only passing through Raquel's small Texas town.

Slade is taking a hiatus from the rodeo circuit to meet the sister he never knew he had. But the pretty widowed nurse next door is making him think twice about hitting the road again. He can't turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too. Can Slade fulfill his calling and finally find a place to hang his hat?

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Giveaway details: Here’s something special to commemorate the Heartsong Presents line since it’s ending this month. Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Rodeo Reunion. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from June 1st – July 1st. One winner will receive a baseball themed memory board personally crafted by the author. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on July 22nd.